Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R‑Clarklake) blasted Michigan Democrats at an event hosted by the Hillsdale College Republicans, describing Democratic members of the legislature and Governor Gretchen Whitmer as “on the bat-sh*t crazy spectrum.”
To begin, Shirkey discussed his career as a small business owner prior to serving in the state legislature. To this day, he continues his work in the private sector while also serving his constituents back home.
“I was too old for Vietnam and too young for everything else,” Shirkey said. “So I had to find some other way to serve. That is not to compare my career with the enormous sacrifices of our servicemen and women, but we all have an obligation to do our part to continue this experimentation of self-governance. And if not, shame on us.”
Shirkey then switched gears and discussed Michigan politics. In particular, he explained the continuing battle between the Republican-controlled legislature and Democratic Michigan Gov. Whitmer. The source of the conflict, Shirkey argued, came from a disagreement over how to tackle infrastructure reform and the budget appropriations.
“I pleaded with her not to tie road funding to the overall budget,” Shirkey said.
He argued that both should have been addressed individually.
In time, Gov. Whitmer eventually agreed to separate the two. But as Shirkey put it, “this left us with no options,” as only two weeks stood between Michigan and a budget shutdown.
Shirkey admitted that, due to time constraints, the legislature could not involve Gov. Whitmer in the process of budget allocations. But he went on to ridicule Gov. Whitmer for taking the line-item veto pen to numerous provisions and turning to a 98-year-old law to satisfy her desire for more infrastructure funding.
“She exercised her veto pen and did an unprecedented number of 147 line-item vetoes,” Shirkey explained. “In response to the passage of the budget, she tapped into a very obscure 1921 law that gave the governor the power to transfer money within budgets.”
He concluded his remarks concerning the budget fight by deeming Gov. Whitmer’s actions as “rash political misbehavior” and warned that many in his caucus were fed up with attempts to strike a bipartisan tone. When asked whether or not he felt pressure from Republican colleagues to tow a hardline against Gov. Whitmer, Shirkey acknowledged patience is wearing thin within the Republican Party.
“The pressure is building and it will continue to increase and it will affect people differently,” Shirkey stated. “My governor has the two Democratic caucuses fairly locked up. They sit around and wait for her to call them and tell them to do this or do that.”
Aside from the Michigan legislature, Shirkey also devoted time to answer questions concerning national politics. When asked his thoughts on the impeachment hearings in the United States House of Representatives, Shirkey defended President Donald Trump and critiqued House Democrats for their handling of the situation.
“We are going through ‘kabuki’ theater on impeachment,” Shirkey said. “It hurts my heart to see our president under attack, but it also hurts my heart to see our institutions under attack.”
Reaction to Shirkey’s speech was positive.
“I think it’s great to have the Senate majority leader because as aspiring statesman, we need to balance the concerns of individuals with the concerns of leadership,” said Secretary of College Republicans Brandt Siegfried.